Hospital parking fees scandal continues as analysis shows one site charges £76 A DAY 

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Hospitals are piling pressure on ambulance services by charging patients up to £76.80 a day to park, campaigners warned yesterday.

They said sky-high parking fees mean many sick Britons can no longer afford to drive to A&E and rely on 999 vehicles instead.

Researchers analysed parking charges at 120 of England’s top hospitals.

They found St Thomas’ Hospital in central London – opposite the Palace of Westminster – was the most expensive at £3.20 an hour, or £76.80 a day.

Seven of the ten priciest car parks for a 24 hour stay were in the capital.

Hospitals are piling pressure on ambulance services by charging patients up to £76.80 a day to park, campaigners warned yesterday. Pictured: Darlington's Memorial Hospital car park

Hospitals are piling pressure on ambulance services by charging patients up to £76.80 a day to park, campaigners warned yesterday. Pictured: Darlington’s Memorial Hospital car park

The most expensive outside London was Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, which charges £22, according to the research by car sales firm Motorfinity.

Department of Health guidance says NHS hospitals can charge for parking but prices should be ‘reasonable for the area’.

Trusts must offer free parking to some groups, including disabled patients and parents of sick children staying overnight.

Tory MP Sir Mike Penning, who has campaigned against hospital parking charges, said: ‘The NHS is founded on the principle that it should be free at the point of delivery and that should apply to motorists, be it patients or their loved ones who are visiting at a time of need.

‘Drivers are being fleeced by trusts who charge extortionate fees and use car parks as cash cows, which is morally wrong.

‘If patients cannot afford to park they will pass that pressure on to others, be it a friend, relative or the ambulance service.

Where IS the most expensive hospital to park? 

Researchers analysed parking charges at 120 of England’s top hospitals.

They found St Thomas’ Hospital in central London – opposite the Palace of Westminster – was the most expensive at £3.20 an hour, or £76.80 a day.

Seven of the ten priciest car parks for a 24 hour stay were in the capital.

The most expensive outside London was Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, which charges £22, according to the research by car sales firm Motorfinity.

‘I understand that hospitals in town centre locations cannot leave car parks wide open for anyone to use inappropriately for free but they should use vouchers or suchlike to control their use.’

Ambulance services in England received 1,071,621 calls in August, up 46 per cent from 733,347 in the same month in 2014.

Crews took an average of 42 minutes and 44 seconds to respond to the likes of heart attacks and strokes this August – more than double the target of 18 minutes, the latest figures from NHS England reveal.

Thousands of ambulances are forced to queue outside for up to 24 hours outside A&E, unable to offload patients and respond to new 999 calls due to a shortage of beds.

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives estimates 3,800 patients suffered severe harm such as a lost limb, permanent disability or death as a result of long handover delays in August.

Dean Skiba, chief operating officer at Motorfinity, said: ‘Some of the charges found in this research are pretty eye-watering.

‘For most, A&E is a last resort when seriously injured or ill, couple this with a hefty parking charge and it can be an extremely unpleasant and unsettling experience.

‘Like A&E departments, ambulance services are also at capacity and the above charges certainly won’t encourage those who are able to travel by car to do so.

‘Some UK hospitals offer concessions and discounts where necessary but for the vast majority of people, these charges are a harsh reality.

‘Households are at breaking point with the cost of living crisis and these charges will surely be a concern to many.’

The Patients Association has previously hit out at parking charges, accusing hospitals of ‘taking money from the sick and vulnerable to top up NHS coffers’.

Saffron Cordery, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said: ‘We’d urge people only to call 999 and request an ambulance in a real emergency.

‘Trust leaders understand that many NHS staff and patients who enjoyed free on-site car parking during the pandemic would want this to continue, especially amid the rising cost of living.

‘But many trusts can’t afford to maintain car parks without charging people to use them.

‘Free parking for all patients and visitors will be difficult to provide without more national funding or taking money away from frontline patient services.’

A spokesperson for Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Thomas’ Hospital, said: ‘To ensure our car parking spaces remain available for our patients and are not misused by members of the public visiting central London, the £3.20 hourly cost of parking at St Thomas’ Hospital is in line with local parking facilities.

‘The site is also very well served by local public transport links.

‘Disabled badge holders attending an appointment with their appointment letter and their valid disabled badge are offered free parking.

‘We offer subsidised parking in certain cases, including when someone visits a patient in intensive care.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We are delivering on the manifesto commitment to provide free hospital car parking to thousands more NHS patients and visitors – with 99 per cent of NHS trusts implementing free car parking for those who need it most, and the last 1 per cent working towards it.

‘This is the first time that NHS hospital car parking has been free nationally across England for those who need it the most.’

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